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The striking difference between the sport of table tennis and ping pong

neeraj shukla

Ping Pong and table tennis are identical sports with minor differences in their playing style. There are few variations of ping pong and it is played in a much more informal way as compared to table tennis. The real difference between the two games is that table tennis is a professional competitive sport that is played on an international level across the world. Table tennis players compete in various domestic and overseas tournaments.

In the early days, the terms ping pong and table tennis were both used frequently, but due to fear of trademarks disputes, the International Table Tennis Federation (IITF) chose to use the term table tennis over ping pong.

In today’s times, the players worldwide prefer to use the term table tennis as they do not like the professional sport to be referred to as ping pong. They feel that the term ping pong for a sport sounds phonetically frivolous. However, the ping pong community on the other hand has embraced the less formal name for the sport and doesn’t mind playing the stripped-down version of the sport that is free from the intricate rules of table tennis.

In a less formal ping pong game, serves may hit straight out of the hand or follow a bounce on the table while in table tennis games, the ball is thrown more than six inches upwards from an open hand and then hit from behind the table’s baseline. In ping pong matches the traditional 21 point format is used with each player having five serves alternately, while in present-day table tennis, games go up to 11 points with players having two serves at a time.

Ping pong has several variations around the world in singles and doubles matches. A popular German version of these variations is known as Rundlauf (round the table). It is a fun-filled way of enjoying ping pong by larger groups of players. Players of the two teams form two queues leading anti-clockwise around the table tennis table. The ball is served to the first member of one team and then each player takes their turn at the end of the table to hit the ball before moving on and going to the back of the queue. This popular version of ping pong can be played between ten and sixteen players.

Amateur players consider ping pong a hobby, while the serious ones consider table tennis as a professional sport and take it up as a career to be formally trained to get recognition and earn money.

There is a considerable difference between the equipment used for table tennis and ping pong. Table tennis racquets can be of pips-in, pips-out rubber, and no-limit type of table tennis blade. Whereas in ping pong, every player uses only sandpaper bats. Table tennis racquets have a higher amount of spin and a faster pace as compared to ping pong bats. The standard dimensions of a traditional table tennis table are 274 x 152.5 x 76 cm and it requires quite a bit of space.

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